Justiciability of the Family as a Federal Question:
State courts are responsible for issuing custody, matrimonial and support decrees for families and only the U.S. Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction to review such decrees (by 28 U.S.C. 1257). Federal courts are barred from performing these essential functions through what are known as abstention doctrines. However, federal courts have redefined marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships and parental choices concerning children holding that these are central to the core liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Indeed, the federal bench frequently serves as a check on state prerogatives that deny constitutionally protected civil rights. At present, the Federal courts are conflicted about whether persons may bring challenges to the constitutionality of state laws or processes used in proceedings that involve the domestic relations of families.